Things have changed quite a bit since the last time these two teams met in 2016. On that sunny day in Nashville, Titans QB Marcus Mariota threw for 295 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 47-25 Titans route. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has only played the Titans once in Lambeau Field in his career, back in 2012, when the Packers dominated the Titans 55-7. This Sunday Night, it’s fair to expect a game that’s not so one-sided in either direction.
Both Tennessee and Green Bay lost in their conference championship games in the 2019 season. The Titans snuck in the playoffs and beat Tom Brady in Foxborough and Lamar Jackson in Baltimore, before falling to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. This season, both teams have met and exceeded expectations, as the Titans are 10-4 while the Packers are 11-3.
As we gear up for another exciting, holiday weekend of football, here are some things to read up on when it comes to the Titans battle vs. the Packers on Sunday Night Football in the Frozen Tundra.
The Titans can score:
These Titans are not your Kerry Collins, Jake Locker or Marcus Mariota Tennessee Titans. In fact, going into Week 16, the Titans lead the NFL in most points scored. Indeed, they are led by their MVP-Caliber Running Back, Derrick Henry. After rushing for 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns over 15 games played in 2019, Henry has followed that season up with 1,679 yards and 15 touchdowns, with two games left to play. In his last six games, Henry has rushed for 103, 133, 178, 60, 215 and 147 yards.
In addition to Derrick Henry, the Titans have found their Quarterback for the present and future in Ryan Tannehill. The 8th year signal caller from Texas A&M is a late-bloomer, as it’s taken him time and a different organization to finally prove why he was taken 8th overall in the 2012 draft. This season, Tannehill has thrown for 31 touchdowns, 5 interceptions and has 4 touchdowns on the ground. Statistics don’t tell the whole story. He has a quick release, makes good decisions, gets the ball out quickly, has nice accuracy and can burn defenses with his legs. Teammates have bought into his quiet, steady leadership. The 32 year old is enjoying the best year of his career and right now in this moment, is one of the best QB’s in the NFL.
75 seconds of Ryan Tannehill throwing dimes pic.twitter.com/ie3rShAaE8
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 24, 2020
Tannehill and Henry are surrounded by a number of playmakers that are responsible for the effectiveness of the offense. 2nd year wide receiver A.J. Brown (56 receptions, 881 yards, 10 TD) is quickly becoming one of the top pass catchers in football, displaying elite athleticism, great speed and a wide catch radius. 4th year receiver Corey Davis is having the best season of his career, with 60 catches for 945 yards and 5 touchdowns. Titans TE Jonnu Smith is one of the more athletic pass-catching tight ends in the league. The Titans are no joke offensively, as they’ve had a whopping 4 games in 2020 with at least 40 points scored.
On the other side of the ball….
The Packers have a lethal offense themselves, ranking a tick behind the Titans with the 2nd most points scored in the NFL heading into Week 16. Good news for Green Bay, they should be able to light up the scoreboard against this Titans defense.
The Titans come into Week 16 ranking dead last in the NFL in Sacks, with only 14 on the year. To put that in perspective, the Packers defense ranks 9th in the NFL and they have 38 sacks. The Titans achilles heal all season long has been pressuring the quarterback and it’s likely that things won’t get easier for them at Lambeau Field.
The Packers offensive line struggled against emerging pass rusher Brian Burns and rookie Defensive Tackle Derrick Brown last week against the Panthers. With that being said, the Packers have been excellent as a pass protecting group on the season and it’s more than fair to expect a rebound performance, especially against this defense.
The Titans poor job of pressuring the quarterback is a reflection on their overall pass defense, which ranks 29th in the league in yards allowed per game. Tennessee gets a boost heading into this game as they finally get their best CB, Adoree’ Jackson back in the lineup. Jackson’s first game of the season was last week against the Lions. The talented defensive back will look to shake off some more rust against Davante Adams, the best WR in football.
Special Teams anything but Special
Titans Kicker Stephen Gostkowski has missed 8 field goals on the season. It won’t get any easier this week for the veteran, kicking a cold football in cold weather. For comparisons sake, Packers K Mason Crosby is perfect on field goals for the year.
1 Seed in Play
The Packers might have a chance to clinch the #1 seed in the NFC on Sunday Night. If the Rams beat the Seahawks on Sunday afternoon, a Packers win would clinch the #1 seed and make Week 17 irrelevant for the Packers. If the Seahawks beat the Rams, the outcome of the Titans game on Sunday is meaningless (for seeding purposes). A Packers win against the Bears in Week 17 would still clinch the #1 seed for Green Bay.
Road Warriors vs Home Defenders
The Titans are 5-1 on the road this season, including victories against the Vikings, Ravens and Colts. The Packers are 6-1 at home.
We should be treated to lots of points on Sunday Night Football. The Packers will need to find a way to contain Derrick Henry and get 3rd down stops. Currently, there’s about a 50% chance of snow at kickoff, which would be a beautiful sight to wrap up the regular season campaign at Lambeau. I’ll take the Packers in a close, great game, 37-31.——————
Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a Packers guy. Alex\'s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.